ProjectsPublic Art – Art Assassins, Culture Crimes (2005)

On Her Knees for Public Art, Television and Radio

October 16, 2005 – Cincinnati artist Jan Brown Checco spent a day on her knees for the cause of public art. Brown Checco’s contribution to the Aronoff Center’s opening was a large pastel work, 5′ x 20′ on the sidewalk near the intersection of Seventh and Main Streets entitled “Culture Crimes – Arts Assassins“.

The imagery included five historical figures placed in the context of a police line-up, complete with dates and locations of what Brown Checco calls their “crimes against Civilization, and their lust for control of creativity, disguised as zealous reform.” The line-up includes:

Savonarola, 1497, Florence, Italy – the Dominican priest who conceived of the “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Fine garments, ornaments, literature and artworks of classical content were burned in the Piazza della Signoria.

Hernando Cortez, 1530, Tenochtitlan, Mexico – led the Spanish overthrow of the Aztec confederation, murdered Montezuma, and annihilated the native culture.

Adolf Hitler, 1934-39, Berlin, Germany – presided over the burning and destruction of artworks and literature carried out through the Nazi regime’s “Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Mao Tse Tung, 1966-69, China – led the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” in Communist China, silencing artists and intellectuals by millions.

Newt Gingrich, 1994-95, Washington D.C., House Speaker – pushed for U.S. Congress to “zero out” public financial support of American cultural arts, and to abort National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

  • Jan puts finishing touches on the portraits of the infamous characters in her police line up street art, conceived during Newt Gingrich’s crusade to zero out federal support for PBS, NPR and the NEA.

  • Sketch of Cortez

  • Newt Gingrich makes the line up for pushing Congress to drop support of three important cultural agencies: National Public Radion, Public Television, and the National Endowment of the Arts.